The Giving Pledge, a philanthropic initiative started by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates, added 17 new members this year, bringing the elite group's membership to 154 signatories from 16 countries around the world. The new additions include a diverse group of entrepreneurs and business leaders, representing such industries as technology, medicine, biotech, real estate, and dairy farming.
In a multigenerational, global effort to help address society's biggest issues—from poverty alleviation to health care to education—the Giving Pledge encourages the world's wealthiest individuals and families to donate a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes. The group is specifically focused on billionaires (or those who would be billionaires if not for their big-ticket giving) and was initially meant to attract U.S.-based donors. The effort has expanded worldwide as families and individuals abroad have pledged to give away more than half their wealth. That includes, for the first time this year, pledges from Mainland China, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.
"This new group joining the Giving Pledge is incredibly thoughtful about their desire to give back and help solve the world's toughest challenges through philanthropy," said Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Some have been giving for decades and others are just starting out after building successful businesses, but they all see the value of giving in a bold and effective way."
The new signatories join a legendary list of names, including Richard and Joan Branson, Ted Turner, Dave Goldberg and Sheryl Sandberg, and David Rockefeller (to name just a few). Here are the 17 latest additions to the Giving Pledge:
- Margaret and Sylvan Adams (Israel)
- HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz AlSaud (Saudi Arabia)
- Marc and Lynne Benioff (U.S.)
- Nathan and Elizabeth Blecharczyk (U.S.)
- Brian Chesky (U.S.)
- Scott Cook and Signe Ostby (U.S.)
- Jack and Laura Dangermond (U.S.)
- Henry Engelhardt, CBE and Diane Briere de l'Isle-Engelhardt, OBE (UK)
- Joe Gebbia (U.S.)
- Sir Tom and Lady Marion Hunger (UK)
- Robert and Arlene Kogod (U.S.)
- Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (India)
- PNC and Sobha Menon (UAE)
- Gary K. Michelson, M.D. (U.S.)
- Gensheng Niu (China)
- Liz Simons and Mark Heising (U.S.)
- Dr. Herbert and Nicole Wertheim (U.S.)
The 17 new pledgers gathered along with the other 137 members of the Giving Pledge, ranging in age from 30 to 100, for the group's annual two-day conference this week. The members used the time to learn from experts and each other about how to effectively put their money to use across a range of issues. This year's conference focused on how to drive women's opportunities in the global economy, opportunities and challenges for giving internationally, solving environmental issues, supporting urban renewal, and advancing scientific discovery.
The pledge does not involve pooling any money or committing to any specific cause. It only asks that those who commit to the group give away a majority of their wealth—either while they are alive or in their wills.